Soundcraft Notepad 124
Soundcraft is a British company producing mixing consoles and pro audio equipment; founded in 1973. The Notepad 124 is a small format mixer now discontinued but still available at some retailers. The company has a great reputation for live and studio mixers in the mid-market range. Hardware:
The Notepad 124 is the second smallest in the range and has 4 mono mic/line inputs on XLR and 1/4" jack, 4 mono/stereo line ins on 1/4" jack; 2-track in and record out on RCA-phono jacks. The 1/4" output jacks include: main mix, monitor, headphone. aux send. The 4 mono channels have a global phantom power button and each has independent gain with fixed 3-band EQ, pan, aux send and level on colour-coded rotary dials; the 4 line ins have pan,aux send and level in addition to selectable -10/+4 dB on push buttons. The 4 XLR/mic channels have push button selectable 100Hz high-pass filters.
The unit is well-engineered (nothing loose or flaky) and constructed solidly from sheet steel with tough plastic sides. The headphone output has a rotary dial and selectable routing matrix via push-buttons. Finally, a 60mm master fader controls the main mix with LED indicators for visual reference and clipping indicator. All controls are on the top panel with a solitary on/off swich on rear panel.
The review unit came well packed with an external power supply and a comprehensive, well-writtten manual. If I had one word to describe the Notepad 124 hardware it would be 'quality.' In Use:
I wasn't expecting too much of this unit although it definitely has an edge over my other small mixers: a Yamaha MG16/6FX and Yamaha 01X -in both build-quality and sonics. I was pleasantly surprised at the sweetness of tone although the EQ was limited (which is OK at this price point...£70); the gain structure was sufficient for an SM58 mic and I was able to run my Tele straight through the line ins...it sounded far better than I expected. Although the routing was basic it covers most small home-studio tasks and wouldn't disgrace the audio path - in fact it adds a pleasant warmth even into signal degradation even at higher gain levels. I haven't used the mixer live but I wouldn't hesitate; I suspect it would serve well for small gigs where fewer inputs are needed.
Using the controls, the smooth action and solidity inspires confidence. The mix bus itself was clear with a nice demarcation between channels. The colour-coding makes controls easy to ID. Conclusion:
Hats off to the Soundcraft folk; I'd be dead chuffed if this was my first mixer and on the basis of a couple of days use I'm considering one of their larger mixers for my home studio. If you need something in this range as a starter unit, a home-studio router or for non-critical live gigs then it's highly-recommended by this amateur musician and studio guy. References: Soundcraft - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Soundcraft - [Products] Soundcraft Notepad 124FX